Evan Thompson / The Record — South Whidbey senior Bella Northup is one of the Falcons’ most experienced returning starters.

Evan Thompson / The Record — South Whidbey senior Bella Northup is one of the Falcons’ most experienced returning starters.

Falcon softball’s goal shifts to earning a medal at state tournament | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW

The typical goal for a high school sports team is to make it to state.

It’s been South Whidbey softball’s driving motiviation for many seasons and was accomplished two of the past three years.

But, after winning a game at the 1A state softball championships in 2017 — just two wins shy of a top-four finish — they have their sights set on making it to state and coming home with a medal or championship.

“It’s all kind of effort now,” senior Bella Northup said.

Head coach Alexandra Goheen, in her third year leading the program, wants to win the District 1 championship after coming up short in 2017.

“I’m very hopeful for the season and for the girls,” Goheen said. “I love how they get along so well together. And my seniors are so great. They’re so caring and kind.”

“I know they can do a lot this year,” she added.

The Falcons finished 13-13 overall in 2017.

South Whidbey only lost three starters to graduation in 2017.

The Falcons return the most dominant pitcher in the Cascade Conference — senior Mackenzee Collins.

She threw 291 strikeouts during the regular season in 2017 with an earned run average of 2.056 and was named the league’s defensive player of the year.

A broken toe suffered during the girls basketball season has left her limited during the preseason, but she expects it will be healed by the time the regular season starts at home Tuesday, March 13 against Concrete.

“I think it will be fine,” Collins said. “I should be cleared next week.”

Collins said her pitching this season will be tailored to what she’ll be throwing at the Division I level next year.

Goheen is worried about Collins’ injury and doesn’t want to force her to play at the expense of her college career.

“I don’t want to get in too quick and rehurt herself,” Goheen said. “If she comes in slowly and is really adamant about it, then she’s going to do amazing.”

Collins said the Falcons’ experience at state showed them what a good team looks like.

The Falcons lost to La Center, the eventual state runner-up, 2-0 in the first round.

They beat Chimacum 5-3 in the consolations, but were eliminated by Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls ) 4-0.

Lakeside finished fourth.

“I think it shows the girls what a good team is and what to work towards,” Collins said. “We won a game at state. We can be like that too if we work hard and keep building the program.”

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